“Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.”
In 2009, a cargo ship commanded by Captain Richard Phillips through the international seas around Somalia was hijacked by a swarm of Somali pirates. Quick maneuvering by Captain Phillips (an exceptional Tom Hanks) manages to send one of those small boats fleeing back to Somalia. But the other boat and its captain Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse (a breakout performance by Barkhad Abdi) refuses to turn back. The cargo ship, carrying relief supplies to several countries (including Somalia), has no firearms aboard, no security detail, no defense. All they have are high-pressure water hoses and their own wits.
Captain Phillips orders his own men below deck to hide from Muse and his men. It works up to a point. They make a deal to give the men $35,000 (all the cash they have aboard) if they simply retreat. The men refuse, believing that by holding Phillips and his crew hostage they can bribe the US for millions. If the plan of the 9/11 hijackers was flawlessly executed, the same could not be said about this group of teenage Somalis high on khat, some of them barefoot, all of them wearing rags. The dominoes begin to fall, they are eventually backed into a corner under siege by the most powerful defense system in the history of civilization.